Trio's acts of bravery

By Genevieve Helliwell


Three Bethlehem College students have been singled out for their bravery immediately after the fatal smash in Kenya.

Luke Fisher, 17, Sam McDougall, 18, and 19-year-old David Fellows were in the mini-van that crashed but despite the horror of what happened helped others.

The trio checked people in the van - including teachers Philip Russell and Jan Dean - put people into the recovery position and asked others if they were okay.

Sam said he had no idea how serious the crash had been and, having never been in such a situation, was acting on instinct.

Luke, meanwhile, took the cellphone from Kenyan driver Christopher Mmata, who also died in the crash, and phoned the rest of the group travelling ahead in a car.

They turned around and those in it, including Luke's sister Joy, also helped the injured.

Passing cars stopped to help and taxi drivers volunteered their vehicles to help transport the injured to hospital.

The injured were put into pairs and spread out around the hospital because of crowding.

Car passenger and Year 13 student Anna Boggiss said some of the injured were put in the maternity ward and the uninjured "camped" in the fathers' waiting room.

She said the hospital staff were incredible and many of the Kenyan friends they had met on their trip visited the group in hospital.

Teacher Jan Dean, who was knocked unconscious in the accident, said the minivan appeared to have rolled four times before it landed on its side with the open door facing the sky. A broken collar bone meant she was unable to climb out and had to wait for help.

Their comments came during a press conference at the school yesterday afternoon.

Luke Fisher's mother, Michele, recounted the nightmare of getting a phone call informing her that her two children had been in an accident in Kenya and three people had been killed.

The agonising phone call left her feeling shocked, helpless and far away from Luke and daughter Joy, 19.

"When I first heard from Eoin [Crosbie, Bethlehem College principal] that there had been an accident in Kenya and three people had died, there's no words that can express what it felt like, what it feels to lose a loved one.

"Then he said 'your children are going to be ok, they're ok', but that's not reassuring. I felt so helpless ... and until I spoke to my daughter and son and heard them say 'hello', just to hear their voices, that was sufficient and I knew they'd be fine."

Former Bethlehem College student Caitlin Dickson and college parents Brian and Grace Johnston died.

They were part of the 19-person group from Tauranga helping to build another classroom block at the Ark Quest Education Centre in Mahanga, a village of 10,000 people. The accident happened shortly after 1pm while the group was returning from a visit to the district commissioner and a local high school.

Ten people from the group have returned home, along with the bodies of Caitlin, and the Johnstons. Four remain in Kenya, with three of them still in hospital. One teacher is in Dubai where she stopped after feeling too unwell to continue the journey home.

A funeral service was to be held at the college's events centre for Caitlin today, and a service for the Johnstons will be held on Saturday.

Principal Eoin Crosbie said almost $40,000 had been raised in donations for the Johnston family, the Kenyan families and the Arc Quest Education Centre.


 

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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